This book is for people who have suffered economic damage as a result of legal malpractice.
You have every bit as much right to be compensated as someone who is injured in an automobile accident, perhaps even more so because when you go to see the attorney, you’re placing your trust in that individual to represent you in an area where you are most likely a novice. It’s doubly painful if you suffer additional damage as a result of an attorney’s negligence.
Legal Malpractice And Medical Practice Are Similar
Though the fault of a lawyer is different than the act of medical negligence, it can be helpful to think about legal malpractice in this way. This is because what constitutes a legal malpractice case is similar to that of a medical malpractice case: Not every bad result is the fault of the attorney or the doctor.
There are countless things that can constitute legal malpractice. When attorneys mess up, miss a deadline, or forget to call witnesses, it can have a massive impact on your life. So what actually constitutes malpractice?
Legal Malpractice Under Louisiana State Law
In an attorney-client relationship in Louisiana, malpractice requires you to have a breach of the standard of care – similar to what you have in a medical malpractice case. You also have to have damages. Therefore, if you have an attorney-client relationship, and a breach and damages, you have a legal malpractice case.
Let Down by A Negligent Attorney
A lot of people just don’t know that they’ve been a victim of legal malpractice, but it happens more than we are aware. Unfortunately, many attorneys will fail to explain the lawsuit was lost due to their error, or give some excuse to a layperson who may or may not understand that they’re being fooled.
Many people are not aware that there are strict timelines within which you have to bring a claim against your attorney. Thus, sufferers of legal malpractice wind up letting the time go until their claim is lost by prescription or what some jurisdictions call the statute of limitations.
Misunderstandings And Misconceptions About Legal Malpractice
It’s a misconception that the majority of legal malpractice results from decisions made by the attorney. When an attorney makes a trial-related decision but doesn’t win the case it’s a bad result, not malpractice.
In reality, most legal malpractice claims arise because the attorney missed a deadline.
For instance, in Louisiana, you have a year to submit a claim about an accident or about an accident in which you were injured that was caused by someone else’s negligence. If the attorney missed filing by that date, then that’s a clear act of malpractice and you should be able to recover damages.
A Reasonable Expectation To Win
The evidence to look for is the underlying basis of the case and that it had some reasonable expectation of winning. Then, you need to look at what the attorney did or did not do – and whether that doing or not doing was reasonable given the circumstances. After this determination is made, your lawyer can analyze whether there was a viable legal malpractice claim or not.
Accepting A Case Implies Expertise In The Area
If an attorney in Louisiana accepts a case, he or she is saying to you that they have the wherewithal and the expertise to properly handle that case.
Some lawyers stay in one practice area they are experienced in, while others practice across multiple different areas of the law. An attorney can be very competent in a certain practice area but not in another. A lawyer who takes a case they are unprepared to handle may wind up making mistakes that damage his or her client in some way.
What Elements Must Be Proven By The Plaintiff In A Legal Malpractice Claim?
Realize that a written contract is not required for representation. Thus, to prove malpractice, the first step is to prove the attorney had a duty to you, an attorney-client relationship. Sometimes you think you are being represented by an attorney, but the attorney says he or she is not representing you.
Once the relationship is proven, then you have to prove a breach of duty, which are things such as missing a deadline or failure to file a witness list. Then, you must evidence you were damaged because of that breach, meaning that you lost something of value as a result of the negligence of the attorney responsible for your case.